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Gunman in shooting rampage hired first victim as stripper

May 07, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz
  • Courtney Aoki, 20, had been hired as a stripper before she was shot to death in February, authorities say.
Courtney Aoki, 20, had been hired as a stripper before she was shot to death… (Facebook )

A 20-year-old woman who was the first victim in an early-morning shooting rampage in Orange County in February had been hired as a stripper by the gunman, according to law enforcement sources.

Courtney Aoki, 20, was discovered shot to death in Ali Syed’s bedroom after his parents frantically called 911 at 4:45 a.m. on Feb. 19.

Syed left the Ladera Ranch town house and took off in the family's car, embarking on shooting rampage on Orange County freeways, randomly firing on other motorists. Syed killed kill three people and injured three others before rolling out of his moving car and shooting himself to death.

PHOTOS: Shootings at multiple locations in O.C. 

Syed was a part-time college student who authorities said spent much of his time playing video games in his bedroom. He left behind few clues why he armed himself and raced across the county at dawn, shooting people.

Authorities have publicly said that they didn’t know how Aoki got to the Ladera Ranch home.  Aoki was eventually identified by her fingerprints.

Danni Wood, a friend of Aoki’s, confirmed in February that the woman worked as a personal escort, though she had dreamed of being an actress.

MAP: Orange County shootings 

Wood said Aoki’s line of work was not without danger. During one “date” a man attempted to rape Aoki, Wood said, and Aoki had to defend herself by hitting the man with her shoe.

“I told her, basically, if this happened, you need to get out.”

KFI-AM (640) first reported that Aoki had been hired by the gunman.

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Twitter: @nicolesantacruz

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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